Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for December 6th, 2012

Productivity canards

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Very interesting article by Alan Henry in Lifehacker in which he lists 7 canards about productivity:

The end goal of “productivity” is to spend less time doing the things you have to do so you have more time for the things you want to do. Of course, if you follow every morsel of productivity advice out there, you probably spend more time moving papers and emails around than actually getting anything done. Need to simplify your routine? Let’s put an end to some common productivity tropes once and for all.

Canard #1: You Have to Get Up Early To Accomplish Anything

The canard that you can miraculously solve all your productivity problems by forcing yourself to be a morning person is a long-standing one. It all started when Biologist Christopher Randler published a study that pointed out early risers are indeed more productive. He subsequently defended the study in the Harvard Business Review. A lot of the “early riser = more productive” talk came from this, but in reality he only concludes that people who wake up earlier are in a more proactive mindset, and thus willing to tackle more throughout the day. His results can easily be accounted for by considering how most of us are socialized to believe that waking up early equates having a whole day to get a lot of things done. Photo by David Dávila Vilanova.

A 2011 study published in the journal Thinking & Reasoning points out what we should really remember: That the key to being productive and creative (which the study breaks into two different types of activity) is to work the hours that are best for you. If you’re an early bird (or someone forced into an early schedule because of your job), get your difficult and most troublesome tasks out of the way first thing, when you’re most productive. Then in the afternoon, when you start to wane, it’s time to throttle back and spend time brainstorming and being creative instead. The inverse applies to late risers or people who work best in the afternoon or evening. Put simply, you’ll have more time if you get up early or work late when no one’s around to distract you, but that doesn’t necessarily make you more productive.

Canard #2: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 December 2012 at 5:12 pm

Liking for spicy food and the “explorer” mentality

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I have fairly frequently commented on two mindsets: the explorer, who looks for any excuse to try something new (aka “thrill seeking), and the settler, who looks for any excuse to stick with what he has (aka “threat averse”). Looks like there’s a correlation with a fondness for spicy food. (Full disclosure: I am an explorer, and I like spicy food.)

Jennifer Abassi reports in Popular Science:

When I was a kid, I’d watch in awe as my dad ate dinner. It wasn’t just the heaps of food piled on his plate that impressed me. (The words “portion control” had yet to enter the public lexicon.) What always made me shake my head in disbelief was his curious habit of alternating bites of his meal with bites off a jalapeno pepper. To save time, he’d simply hold the pepper in one hand and his utensil in the other. I should also mention that my heritage is Indian, and that my mom served up traditional spicy dishes on a nightly basis. But it was never spicy enough for Dad.

I’d always assumed that he’d just burned all the taste buds off his tongue, leaving him desensitized to the pain I felt if a raw pepper came anywhere near mine. But the science of spicy food liking and intake — there’s a whole body of research dating back at least to the 1980s on this — shows there’s more to it than just increased tolerance with repeated exposure. Personality, researchers say, is also a factor in whether a person enjoys spicy meals and how often he or she eats them. The question is, how much of a factor?

Over the past few decades, culinary psychologists and other food researchers have proposed several cultural and biological reasons why we eat spices that may elicit pain, such as early learning, prior exposure, societal norms and physiological differences in taste and oral anatomy. Although desensitization to capsaicin, the plant chemical that gives peppers their burn, is well documented, there’s also evidence that the effect is surprisingly small.

“This suggests chili liking is not merely a case of increased tolerance with repeated exposure, but rather that there is an affective shift towards a preference for oral burn that is not found in chili dislikers,” write Nadia Byrnes and John Hayes, researchers at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, in a new study on spicy food consumption.
UPenn researchers have previously linked chili liking to thrill seeking, specifically an affinity for amusement park rides and gambling. Later, SUNY Stony Brook investigators found a relationship between chili liking and sensation seeking when using a more formal measure of personality called Zuckerman’s Sensation Seeking Scale. In both cases, however, the associations were fairly weak, and neither study looked at intake — how often a person eats spicy foods, versus how much a person likes spice.

As part of a larger study on how the capsaicin receptor, TRPV1, influences oral sensations, Byrnes and Hayes decided to take another look at the psychology of so-called chili-heads. They used an updated measure of sensation seeking that avoided gender- and age-biased questions, as well as dated references (questions like “I would like to make friends in some of the ‘far-out’ groups like artists or ‘hippies’” were replaced with prompts like “I would have enjoyed being one of the first explorers of an unknown land”). They also introduced a four-point scale for responses, allowing for more nuance than the older yes/no response method.

Ninety-seven male and female participants ranging in age from 18 to 45 filled out a food-liking questionnaire and rated the intensity of sensations after sampling six stimuli, including capsaicin mixed in water. Later they took an online survey that included personality measures and asked how often they consume foods containing chili peppers. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 December 2012 at 4:40 pm

Posted in Food, Science

Dave Brubeck Quartet on Ralph Gleason show

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Extremely interesting—RIP David Brubeck.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 December 2012 at 4:07 pm

Posted in Jazz, Video

For dinner tonight

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Both recipes previously blogged and recently:

Boston Baked Beans: Used the 3.5-qt Staub round cocotte; next time will use the 2.25-qt one. I’m using a 200ºF oven (corresponds to “Low” setting on slow cooker, which is the same) instead of the 250ºF oven the recipe suggests (without explanation).

Braised Turkey Thigh: Much as before. No prosciutto still, used chorizo this time, and Roma tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes.

I got spelt bread to have with.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 December 2012 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Polygraph screening in the news

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Polygraphs, as is well known and is recognized by the courts, is unreliable. And yet many agencies love to use them, and particularly seem to dote on asking intimate personal questions whose relationship to the job is tenuous as best. McClatchy has a clutch of stories on the subject today, all worth perusing:

Feds expand polygraph screening, often seeking intimate facts begins:

She was one of the brightest students at a leading university when the Central Intelligence Agency offered her a job as a counter-terrorism analyst. But first, the 19-year-old was warned, she had to undergo a polygraph test to determine whether she could be trusted.

Instead of scrutinizing her ability to guard government secrets, polygraphers asked about her reported rape and miscarriage, the woman recalled. Over at least eight hours in three separate sessions, polygraphers repeatedy demanded to know her innermost thoughts, even after she started sobbing in shame.

“At one point, one of the polygraphers said to me, ‘Turn on the light inside so I can see,’ ” said the woman, who asked that her name be withheld. “I was amazed at how creepy and invasive the whole process was.”

Last year, more than 73,000 Americans across the country submitted to polygraph tests to get or keep jobs with the federal government, although such screening is mostly banned in the private sector and widely denounced by scientists. Many of the screenings probably aren’t as harsh as the CIA applicant described, but polygraphers at a growing number of U.S. agencies are asking employees and applicants questions about their personal lives and private thoughts in the name of protecting the country from spies, terrorists or corrupt law enforcement officers. . .

As polygraph screening flourishes, critics say oversight abandoned begins:

For more than three decades, CIA polygraphers collected what they hoped would be damning evidence that Michael Pillsbury should be barred from seeing government secrets.

As the dossier on him grew, the China expert nonetheless advised three Republican presidents, got countless security clearances, was a top defense official under President George W. Bush and did sensitive work for the CIA.

The extent of the allegations against him finally came spilling out two years ago, when Pillsbury discovered that he was accused of making multiple confessions during polygraph tests that he later said he’d never made. When he demanded to refute the accusations, CIA security officials politely demurred. Agency officials informed his attorneys that the constitutional right to due process didn’t apply to polygraph screening.

“Polygraphers have no accountability,” Pillsbury wrote this week in a letter to James Clapper, the director of national intelligence. “This is wrong and needs to be corrected.” . . .

Federal polygraph programs are secret even to researchers begins:

It’s one of the best-kept secrets in the federal government.

Information about polygraph screening is so guarded by the agencies that use it that job applicants who are tested are urged not to tell anyone. The news media are denied basic information, such as how many government employees are screened, because it’s “sensitive” and could jeopardize national security.

Researchers are told they can’t get studies about how it works. Even the National Academies, the organization set up to advise the federal government on scientific matters, faced stiff resistance when it reviewed polygraph testing. As a result, the academies compared the polygraph profession to the “priesthood keeping its secrets in order to keep its power.”

“It’s a siege mentality,” acknowledged Gordon Barland, a retired federal polygraph researcher who supports polygraph screening but also pushed for greater transparency on some of the data. . . .

U.S. polygraphers questioned accuracy of tests on detainees overseas begins:

he U.S. military conducted hundreds of polygraph tests on detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan despite doubts about whether innocent civilians could be accurately separated from accused terrorists, documents obtained by McClatchy show.

The Air Force alone tested more than 1,000 detainees in Iraq to determine whether they were involved in terrorist attacks on U.S. military personnel or whether they should be released. As the screening was under way, polygraphers voiced concerns about the results, in part because they were posing questions through interpreters in a war-torn country.

“I have serious questions as to the accuracy of exams done in this environment,” wrote one polygrapher who was involved in 240 of the tests over two deployments. “I think the decision was made to contribute to the war effort . . . with little regard to the problems associated with doing these.”

The polygraphers’ observations from 2004 to 2008 offer yet another example of the U.S. military’s controversial detainee-interrogation policies overseas in the wake of 9/11. Their experiences also raise broader questions about the growing use of polygraph abroad – often with the encouragement of the U.S. government. . .

These stories show a government out of control. The use of polygraphs should be abandoned. Certainly they did nothing to catch (say) Robert Hanssen or Aldrich Ames.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 December 2012 at 9:22 am

Weber polished head

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SOTD 6 Dec 2012

I used the new polished-head (rather than coated) Weber this morning. But first I did my prep: Mystic Waters Wild Lavender shave stick and the Whipped Dog silvertip with the octagonal resin handle and 22mm knot, a fine soap and a fine brush. The fragrance of the soap is distinctive but light, and the lather is excellent.

The Weber held a new Gillette 7 O’Clock SharpEdge blade, and I have to say that I don’t care for this head so much as I do for the coated heads. It is certainly a fine razor, but the head is not quite so comfortable and I did get one nick. Not a big difference in comfort, but enough to notice. I would recommend the DLC (or the ARC should it ever return) over the polished head.

The aftershave is a Bay Rum from a redditor who’s experimenting. It has a very good fragrance, distinct from other bay rums I have, but seemed slightly thin in the liquid—as if not enough glycerin or some such. That is, the liquid is very liquidy, and normally an aftershave has a bit more physical body. My own thought would be to increase the glycerin a tad, but I’m not an aftershave maker.

Still, it was perfectly satisfactory, and I do love the fragrance.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 December 2012 at 8:05 am

Posted in Shaving

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